Jose Andres appeared on ABC’s ‘The Taste’

March 13, 2013

D.C.'s own Jose Andres appeared on Tuesday night's finale of "The Taste," ABC's culinary answer to "The Voice" that is really more like an eight episode commercial for Hellmann's Mayonnaise and Ford hybrids. And it was on this show that a strange truth was revealed about Jose Andres that involves Iberico ham and caviar. Real talk from judge Anthony Bourdain, in a challenge for contestants to make tapas for the famed Spanish chef and restaurateur:


Jose Andres. (Jason Varney)

Anthony Bourdain: "Everyone else is going full Spaniard, they've got their lips just aimed at Jose's [derriere] directly."

Contestant Diane: "I'm sure his [derriere] is very tasty." [Note: Ick.]

Anthony Bourdain: "I'm sure it tastes like Iberico ham and caviar."

To back it up for those who haven't been watching, which is most of you, since the ratings are almost as terrible as the show (shamefully, that has not stopped me from watching every single episode): The show's four judges chose teams of four based on a blind taste test, resulting in a mix of home chefs and professionals. Nigella Lawson, Anthony Bourdain, Ludo Lefebvre and Brian Malarkey's teams first prepare a single bite for a guest chef, and then for their team leaders, who all once again taste blind.

The show is filmed on a cavernous, high-tech stage, where models place novelty flatware before the judges, and losing contestants are banished to pneumatic tube-like elevators. There is a wretched theme song ("Oooh-oooh -ooooo-oooh. How'd ya like the Taste?") and constant, high-intensity music thumping, despite the fact that there is very little drama on the show, and even less attention paid to cooking technique. (The cameras focus more on the rivalry between Ludo and Malarkey.) In short, this is a very silly show, one which goes against everything that Anthony Bourdain once professed to have cared about, as Grantland wrote:

"This is a cooking competition unlike any other," Bourdain brayed at the start of the series last month. It was a lie. There have been plenty of terrible cooking competitions in the past, though maybe none as teeth-grindingly cringey as this one.

It was not too embarrassing for Andres, though. "Tapas is a celebration of life," he began, before introducing the ingredients that the four remaining contenders had to use: mozzarella cheese, Iberico ham and spot prawns.

No one was more excited about Andres's appearance than contestant Khristianne, who claims to have traveled to Las Vegas to eat at Jaleo more than 20 times. (Lucky for us, we have 75 percent of the world's Jaleo supply right here.) "I know so much about this man," she said. "I idolize him."

When Andres sampled her dish, he coughed. DOOM. But wait:

"I think when dishes have a certain amount of acidity, really they are very alive," he said, "And I love things that are alive ... Overall, a very good showing."

"That's probably the biggest compliment I've ever gotten in my whole career," said Khristianne.

After Andres eliminated one contestant (no spoilers!) he helped out in the kitchen as the remaining three chefs prepared their final dishes. There, he mostly fed them canned lines from the producers, asking them what they were cooking, who they thought should win, and at one point stiffly reminding them of the trophy, car, and $100,000 prize they stood to win. You can watch it here:

Maura Judkis covers culture, food, and the arts for the Weekend section and Going Out Guide.
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